A honeymoon is supposed to be a once in a lifetime trip, and Jill and I treated it as such. Convenience went out the window as we looked for exotic and remote locations to spend the first couple of weeks of our married life together. After considering everything from Italy to Bali to the Maldives we ended up booking a trip to French Polynesia. A “quick” 8 hour flight from LAX, the Tahitian Islands are widely known for their unique hotels, remote location and postcard-worthy scenery. Over ten nights, we visited the island Bora Bora with its illustrious lagoon and bungalows built right over the water, as well as its lesser known (but equally as beautiful) cousin, Moorea. While travel from the East Coast is not an easy feat (30 hours total travel time!) the hours of layovers and airport madness is soon forgotten as you become captivated by the beauty of this volcanic archipelago.
Getting off the plane in Tahiti, you feel far away from home. It’s a very humbling experience to look at the flight tracker on the airplane and see nothing but blue between you and your destination. What’s even more unnerving is the fact that the dot identifying your destination on the map is larger than the scale island itself, as if it the plane was just flying into the abyss that is the South Pacific Ocean. From the Tahiti International Airport it’s a short 8 minute flight to the neighboring island of Moorea, where we officially began our trip and the true splendor of this location finally started to come into focus. Here we were able to get an authentic taste of the Polynesian culture, as Moorea is a small and friendly island with only 4 hotels. The locals treat tourists with courtesy and respect and seemed genuinely interested to talk to you. Off the resort, we had some superb local food that was equally as satisfying as any pasta dish I have ever eaten. Fish is commonplace and usually prepared with coconuts, local fruits and spices. We also took an ATV tour through the volcanic crater of the island, which now is home to a pineapple and exotic flower plantation, before trekking to top of ‘Magic Mountain.’ From the peak we had an unobstructed panoramic view of the island, its two bays and coral reef that literally took my breath away.
While Moorea felt remote, Bora Bora turned out to be the place to totally disconnect from reality. Our hotel had only 80 rooms (all overwater bungalows), and even though it was fully booked at the time we were there, we felt like we were the only ones on the island. Most people did not feel the need to leave the confines of their private bungalow, complete with deck and swim platform, and only came to the main building of the resort to eat. Our hotel was located on a motu (a mature coral reef that has grown out of the water and now appears as land) on the outskirts of the Bora Bora lagoon (the island is centrally located with smaller motus that border it on all sides – in between the island and the various motus is the lagoon). The network of decks and bungalows extend into the lagoon, seemingly reaching like outstretched arms at the majestic Mt. Otemanu which rises out of the lagoon and disappears into the scattered low-hanging clouds. From our deck we had spectacular views across the lagoon to the mountain, and were also able to watch the tropical fish swim right under our feet. Visibility underwater is incredible as we learned during our snorkeling tour, and can extend to several hundred feet. We swam with sharks and fed the surprisingly friendly sting rays that frequent the lagoon. The warm waters attract everything from the smallest fish to humpback whales; and while the largest fish we saw was a manta ray (which is about about 8 feet across) there was no shortage of fluorescent colored sea life to keep us entertained.
Flying out of Moorea I couldn’t have imagined a place being any more beautiful than where we just were, and was convinced that all the hype around Bora Bora was just that, hype. I was wrong. Bora Bora is a special place, and I’m hard pressed to believe there is anywhere else like it on earth. Just flying into the island is an experience, and as you descend you are mesmerized by the endless shades of turquoise blue waters that I thought only existed on the travel channel through the ‘magic of television. While Moorea had water equally as blue and mountains equally as dramatic, Bora Bora has the ‘it’ or the ‘wow’ factor that has given it a reputation that precedes itself. It was a spectacular trip and an even better way to begin our new life together.